Butterflies for thought

This morning I awoke to blurry white water, a broken stovetop, and [still] a stationary elevator after a night of sweating profusely despite leaving my window wide open. My mini studio has become more of a land mine and my super and I are going to commence our first confrontation the moment we’ve introduced ourselves. Ex and I had planned on making breakfast, but stopped by my favorite diner when my few resources failed us. After a hearty meal we rode our way down to South St. for his first view of Lady Liberty. The moment we emerged from the subway the clouds loosened their grip on a few droplets and I read an internship rejection email through my foggy phone screen. I’ve become accustomed, almost comfortable, with these kinds of days, but was relieved to have ex boyfriend less than a text away to cheer me up. We did what anyone enamored with this city would do: ditched the ferry, let the dreary view from the station suffice, and caught a train right back toward Central Park. Per my usual request we opted out of a crosstown bus and walked right across 79th to the museum for round two.

To divert my attention from the discouragement only NYC housing and work can bring, ex-boyfriend paid for the exhibit I’ve anticipated since reading of Sloane Crosley’s infamous volunteerism: the butterfly conservatory. When two people paranoid about finances spend $18 to walk in an exclusive room they expect nothing short of–well, no one knows what to expect from a butterfly room, but we hoped for my luck to turn around. Again with the shameless mouth dropping. I’d say we were like kids in a candy store, but we were more like kids in a Chuck E. Cheese: scared, bewildered, and tickled. We couldn’t help ourselves. Not only are butterflies one of the coolest creatures to learn about, they’re breathtaking. I admittedly learned for the first time that butterflies never grow after breaking free from their cocoons, and how could they? They only live an average of twelve days! The woman educating us asked three times, “Why are they here then?” She’s had a considerable amount of time to ponder this and concluded their sole purpose is to reproduce, which she followed with, “That’s no more their purpose than ours.”

What a mystery: why would God create a being with only twelve days to live? Personally, my follow-up question is, why then would the museum make those 12 brief days of captivity? They don’t even allow the butterflies to reproduce; they continually bring in new cocoons from breeding farms. This undeniably parallels the question of human life and purpose. The obvious relative question is, what would you do if you only had 12 days to live? A familiar icebreaker. But the fervently hindered truth is we don’t know how many days we have, and what should we do with our unpredictable length of life? I don’t routinely face this question with my typically brutal honesty. I can’t when I spend my days working toward an unforeseen goal. Realistically the fruitless career search and tiresome mission to make rent are necessary evils, but days without purpose are days without life, and our days are numbered no matter how perpetually we ignore it.

Philosophical queries aside, the butterflies were well worth the fee, and our second visit was as fulfilling as the first. We covered the space, gemstones, minerals, and American mammals we missed before and topped the day off with a coffee at Tom’s (the Seinfeld restaurant). We met ex-boyfriend’s uncle for dinner and returned to the war zone where Seinfeld DVDs were waiting. We’re suckers for entertainment consistent with the theme of our day. Tomorrow ex-boyfriend packs up early as I head to an interview for more part time work. Fingers crossed.


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